Victims of Financial Fraud (VOFF) have again hit out against the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) regarding the Trio scandal, this time alleging that “ASIC looks after ASIC” rather than the interests of the “ordinary Australians” who rely on the regulator to prevent misconduct.
In 2013, the Parliamentary Joint Oversight Committee commenting on the Trio scandal referred to it as a “fraud” as well as “collapse”, the latter of which had been used extensively by ASIC.
VOFF said this acknowledged that fraud was involved, but that there was no evidence that either the Government or the regulator had acted to end it.
It alleged that the instructions given by then-Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten, were biased in nature.
“ASIC were directed by Mr Shorten’s office to ‘bring down’ the single advisor who had recommended Trio to the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and consequently laid charges against this one lone advisor, he was only one out of 155 advisors who had clients in Trio,” VOFF said.
“There was no mention of Mr Shorten’s interest and close connection with the AWU yet he directed public attention by suggesting the Trio victims lost their savings because they were ‘swimming outside the flags’.”
VOFF also claimed that then-chair of ASIC, Greg Medcraft, also acted in self-interest in the aftermath of Trio.
“It is not known whether Mr Medcraft negotiated measures to close the loopholes that are endangering the savings of over 16 million Australians. It is also unknown whether his job to strengthen the financial system was lodged as an official government request,” it said.
“The role ASIC fulfilled was to mislead the public by focusing on financial advice, leaving most interested parties misinformed that Trio was caused by poor financial advice, when again there is ample evidence that Trio was a ‘fraud’.”
Rather, VOFF said it was known that Medcraft acted to further his own career, alleging that doing so was done at the cost of acting as an effective chair of a regulator.
“It is easy to perceive that ASIC only looks after ASIC and the top end of town while being contemptuous to all others. The ambitions, the self-promotion and the landing of an International Chair does not reflect that anything was carried out in the interests of the ordinary people who were exposed to the Trio fraud,” VOFF said.
The organisation also alleged that Medcraft’s appointment as ASIC chair in 2011 was political, saying that then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan did not appropriately advertise the role as required by both senior public service appointment standards and meritocracy.